With my experience and knowledge of family law, I can offer expert advice and support for those who are considering or who have decided to take the step towards divorce proceedings.
At present, it is necessary for a couple to have been married for a year before they can apply for a divorce.
There is one ground that the marriage has irretrievably broken down which is shown by using one of five factors:
1. Adultery – one party has committed adultery and the other party finds it intolerable to live with him/her.
2. Unreasonable behaviour – one party has behaved in a way that the other cannot reasonably be expected to live with the other party.
3. Two years separation with consent. – the parties have been living apart for at least two years and they agree to a divorce.
4. Desertion for 2 years – where one party has deserted the other
5. Five years separation – the parties have been living apart for at least five years and consent of the other party is not required
Divorce law will be changing in autumn 2021 to a “no-fault divorce” but at the moment, one of the factors listed above must be used.
The divorce process from beginning to end usually takes 5 - 6 months although in some cases, it may be appropriate not to apply for Decree Absolute (the final decree) until financial matters are resolved.
The Financial Consequences of Divorce
The financial consequences of divorce are often the most important part of any separation.
On a divorce it is important to consider 3 financial aspects.
1. Income ( how each party is to live day to day)
2. Capital ( where each party is going to live to provide a home ) and
3. Pension fund ( having a fund of capital and income for the future.)
The courts have a wide discretion to alter income, capital and pension fund with the first priority to ensure that children have a home, The relevant law can be found in s.25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
You will often hear lawyers mention " the matrimonial pot" which is an imaginary pot into which all assets of the marriage or civil partnership are placed and are divided up fairly and reasonably, considering fact specific issues. Both parties are expected to give full disclosure of all income, capital and pension fund. Then, if possible, an agreement is reached either through negotiations between lawyers, mediation, collaborative meetings, or arbitration. If none of these options are suitable for your case, then an application to the family court is made and I will guide you through court proceedings.
Financial aspects of divorce can include:
• Dealing with property either owned jointly or individually.
• Pensions which can be shared on a divorce or dissolution or offset against other assets
• Payment of capital lump sums
• Payment of spousal and child maintenance
• Sharing of investments
• Valuations of businesses and sharing of business assets
• Trusts and Family Settlements
• Inherited Assets
I often deal with cases where individuals have significant assets so called "high net worth individuals" which can involve multi-million-pound settlements. I have experience of cases where assets are hidden, and investigations are required. Also, with cases where it is necessary to stop one party dissipating assets. In this we apply to the court for an injunction " freezing" assets.
Where companies are involved, I will instruct expert forensic accountants to value businesses and also to examine family trusts. If pension funds are involved, I will instruct pension actuaries to advise in relation to pension sharing.
I understand that financial matters are an important part and can be the most worrying aspect of any separation.
How I Can Help
Every case is fact specific, and I will advise you when is the appropriate time to apply for decree absolute.
I know it can be difficult to decide to bring a marriage to and end but if you wish to discuss your circumstances, please get in contact with me.